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Old 12-12-2018, 12:13 AM   #1
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Help me not make a huge mistake! *time sensitive*

Hello,

Ive been thinking of converting and living in a van for a while but have been leaning more towards something a little bigger. I decided on a bus and since Im not going new, Im afraid to miss something and end up with a bad vehicle. I have been looking for a last few months and I think I finally found a good deal.

I found a vehicle that was owned by the DMV for around 20 years. Its an econoline bus with gas engine. The mileage is incredibly low and carfax records confirm this (not sure how much to trust carfax). I scheduled a viewing with the owner on the only day off I had. Unfortunately I was unable to test drive it due to a flat bed truck that was also parked in the garage that was not in working order. This new owner has had the vehicle for less than a year and a half and only put a couple thousand miles on it. I was able to hear the engine running and it sounds very smooth with no ticks or weird noises. Exhaust shows no signs of engine problems. I checked for rusk in the undercarriage and did not find any extensive damage. I found some rust but considering the age of the vehicle it is very minimal.

The owner is working on moving the flatbed and I already schedule an appointment with a mechanic on Thursday. The owner seem legit, it seems to me that his family has some businesses in the area, I met him at a party rental place and then he took me to the garage where they had equipment for another business. Obviously this is no guarantee but it put me at ease as the story makes sense as to why they acquired the vehicle and why they are getting rid of it.

My question to this community is what should I keep an eye for on the vehicle itself. any warnings against these type of vehicles for an RV? I need to find as many negative things to help me negotiate the price down some. I consider the price fair but you always negotiate and seen as they told me they bought at auction sight unseen, im gonna guess they payed less than what they are asking. what would you pay for something like this?

Im gonnna be a bit ambigius because im a little afraid someone could steal the deal from me (i know highly unlikely but you never know)

E-350 cutaway
1992-1997
less than 30k miles
gas engine 5.8l
23' bus

I attached a picture of a very similar bus (not the same as people know how to back search images that could find my bus)
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Old 12-12-2018, 12:43 AM   #2
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Old 12-12-2018, 01:13 AM   #3
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Have you ever had or used an RV?

Are you planning on putting in black and grey tanks?
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Old 12-12-2018, 01:58 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum!!
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Old 12-12-2018, 05:50 AM   #5
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Depending on what state you live in you may run into difficulty registering it as an RV
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Old 12-12-2018, 07:21 AM   #6
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The buying technique of running a vehicle down to get a better price can be a real turn off to some sellers.
When I sold my last truck I had several very interested buyers. One prospect ran the truck down so much that I finally just told him I wasn't interested in selling it to him..........should have seen the look on his face Priceless!!! The next day I had a lady come and look at it..........she fell in love with it which thrilled me.............I dropped the price because she was so enthusiastic.

Just be straightforward and say (if true) "It needs some work..........would you take X amount of dollars? It's really the best I can do"
Good luck and best wishes
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Old 12-12-2018, 08:42 AM   #7
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JonGP,

You mentioned "Living In The Vehicle". Given that initial statement, I am very curious why your decision to convert a bus into living quarters rather than buy a fully functional used motor home. If it's about saving money, I think you are mistaken. If you have very special circumstances like running a unique business out of it, then please share. You may find it much easier and cheaper to make changes to a motor home rather than building something from an empty shell. You will also find the bus doors being drafty and insecure.

Many people successfully live in motor homes, even very small ones. I always thought our scaled-down 24 footer HERE would be ideal for a single person living inside full time. Add a larger dog, and then not so much.
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Old 12-12-2018, 09:10 AM   #8
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Old 12-12-2018, 09:16 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonGP View Post
Hello,

Ive been thinking of converting and living in a van for a while .......I'm gonnna be a bit ambigius because im a little afraid someone could steal the deal from me (i know highly unlikely but you never know).
Anytime you think you've found "the" vehicle, house, etc you are already very close to making a bad financial decision IMO.

Living in a van for a young person ( if this applies ) is a negative in a couple of areas at least. Finding a spouse. Creating Net Worth.

You did ask us to try and help you not make a bad decision.
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Old 12-12-2018, 09:25 AM   #10
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I would go with an RV motor coach not less than 25' long to live in as a single. Most RV's are built for summer recreational use, not full time. Get a higher-end, quality built unit if your going to live in it full time. Conversions are costly and hard to register as an RV.
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Old 12-12-2018, 10:32 AM   #11
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Thanks so much for the replies! very suprised to see that many this morning

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_D View Post
from WA State.

No picture showing.
Here is a bus with very similar length and body. This bus is in much worse condition than the one I found.
1994 Used Ford Econoline RV Cutaway RV Cutaway 176" WB DRW at Michael's Motor Company Serving Nashville, TN, IID 18046049

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arch Hoagland View Post
Have you ever had or used an RV?

Are you planning on putting in black and grey tanks?
I have never owned or had an RV, I plan to install gray water and no black tank, im going to use one of those composting toilets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePowells View Post
Welcome to the forum!!
Thanks! very warm welcome
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isaac-1 View Post
Depending on what state you live in you may run into difficulty registering it as an RV
Currently live in PA and will be moving to texas within a year

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ret.LEO View Post
The buying technique of running a vehicle down to get a better price can be a real turn off to some sellers.
When I sold my last truck I had several very interested buyers. One prospect ran the truck down so much that I finally just told him I wasn't interested in selling it to him..........should have seen the look on his face Priceless!!! The next day I had a lady come and look at it..........she fell in love with it which thrilled me.............I dropped the price because she was so enthusiastic.

Just be straightforward and say (if true) "It needs some work..........would you take X amount of dollars? It's really the best I can do"
Good luck and best wishes
Thanks for your reply! I see that I made it sound pretty bad saying I was trying to find as many things wrong so I can negotiate in price. I guess what I really meant was help me find posible issues with the vehicle so I dont get stuck overpaying for something just because I got too excited.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Dittmer View Post
JonGP,

You mentioned "Living In The Vehicle". Given that initial statement, I am very curious why your decision to convert a bus into living quarters rather than buy a fully functional used motor home. If it's about saving money, I think you are mistaken. If you have very special circumstances like running a unique business out of it, then please share. You may find it much easier and cheaper to make changes to a motor home rather than building something from an empty shell. You will also find the bus doors being drafty and insecure.

Many people successfully live in motor homes, even very small ones. I always thought our scaled-down 24 footer HERE would be ideal for a single person living inside full time. Add a larger dog, and then not so much.
I thought about buying an RV but the really nice ones are way out of my price range. So in a sense it is about saving money but also keep in mind that I was thinking of converting a cargo van but just decided it was too small. I stopped looking at RVs earlier on, some of the reasons for example is adding upgrades like solar which would be difficult on already build RVs. Insulation is a big priority for me, its very difficult to asses how well insulated a used RV might be.

I have no special circumstances. I was planing on replacing those front doors with something else, or adding some gaskets and paneling on the interior side. Hypothetically speaking what is something I can buy for 15k? thats how much I was planing to invest but I felt like it was going to go a lot further if I did it myself. Not gonna lie, I was also looking forward to building it my self as I would know exactly how it was build but saying it is different than building it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob caldwell View Post
Ford's weak spot is the ignition control box, so I'd carry a spare
Thanks for the tip!

Quote:
Originally Posted by okcnewbie View Post
Anytime you think you've found "the" vehicle, house, etc you are already very close to making a bad financial decision IMO.

Living in a van for a young person ( if this applies ) is a negative in a couple of areas at least. Finding a spouse. Creating Net Worth.

You did ask us to try and help you not make a bad decision.
Yes I did ask! no offence taken
Im already married and wife is on board with moving into it. We are relatively young, I just turn 30 and shes a couple of years younger. We have been looking at traveling the states with the van for a few years now but we never had the guts. Its really now or never because that biological clock keeps ticking and im not sure if we would be up for that challenge in an RV. I know people do it but not sure its for us. What do you mean by creating net worth?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teddyman View Post
I would go with an RV motor coach not less than 25' long to live in as a single. Most RV's are built for summer recreational use, not full time. Get a higher-end, quality built unit if your going to live in it full time. Conversions are costly and hard to register as an RV.
Im actually trying to go small as "posible" to me. So while I would like something no less than 25 ft, I was actually trying not to cross 21ft but i went over by 2 already
I was under the impression that a high end RV would definitely be more expensive. I also thought that Registering as an rv only required a few things like electricity runing water gary water tanks and a few other things. I watch several youtube videos (not specifically about changing the designation to RV) and the ones that mentioned changing the paperwork said it was easy.
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Old 12-12-2018, 11:58 AM   #12
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Suffering a severe case of analysis paralysis on bus purchase

More Info

Interior dimensions
90” width
190” from back of bus to the back of the driver side seat
73” interior height in the passenger area, about 79” at the front by the driver area.

Link below to a similar age bus with similar shell, although it might be slightly longer than my find.
1994 Used Ford Econoline RV Cutaway RV Cutaway 176" WB DRW at Michael's Motor Company Serving Nashville, TN, IID 18046049

1-If you were in my shoes and wanted to convert a bus to RV for full time living, would you consider the bus I found?

2-What are some must haves when selecting a bus platform to convert (not taking into account vehicle mechanical issues ie engine, transmission problems, etc. )

3-What mechanical issues should I be aware for the e350 platform?

4-Anything you would like to share that can make my life easier?

5-What would you pay for a bus with these specs?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-12-2018, 12:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonGP View Post
Thanks so much for the replies! very suprised to see that many this morning .....What do you mean by creating net worth?
Thanks for being a good sport and taking the opinion in the spirit it was given. I just mean that when/if you retire if you at least have a house paid for you have that asset. Unfortunately, our MH's are heading all too quickly towards the salvage yard where they will be worth zip.
I agree that it's tough paying rent and not getting anything in return. When renting you do get the piece of mind that if something goes wrong at least you don't have to pay for the repair.
Good luck!
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Old 12-12-2018, 12:52 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by okcnewbie View Post
Thanks for being a good sport and taking the opinion in the spirit it was given. I just mean that when/if you retire if you at least have a house paid for you have that asset. Unfortunately, our MH's are heading all too quickly towards the salvage yard where they will be worth zip.
I agree that it's tough paying rent and not getting anything in return. When renting you do get the piece of mind that if something goes wrong at least you don't have to pay for the repair.
Good luck!
That's what I thought you meant, I just didn't want to assume. Yes i am also worried about this. Honestly since we have never done this, we are unsure how long we will do it for. I do know that the best apartment I ever rented was this tiny studio by the beach, I had the perfect setup where it felt bigger and the little porch was the jewel of the place. Our plan is to try to live in it full time for as long as posible. Once we move to Texas we plan to purchase a home and rent it out (I have a great home purchase benefit from a prior employer... totally kicking my self for not buying in ~2011) then when/if we want to stop full timing we can just move into the house.
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